Vikas Swarup, known for his hugely popular “Q & A”, the book behind the award winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” has just published his latest novel, and even without the Slumdog hype, this was always going to be a great book.
It is always a little difficult to review a friend’s book, and Vikas is indeed a friend, but I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I absolutely loved “The Accidental Apprentice,” and gobbled it up in record time.
It is a fast-paced book, well-written, with an intriguing storyline – how Vinay Mohan Acharya, an uber-rich Indian billionaire picks a young Delhi girl out of obscurity, and plans on making her his successor and the CEO of his company? All Sapna Sinha, a 23 year old shop assistant, must do is pass seven tests to prove she is indeed worthy of becoming Mr. Acharya’s successor.
The book takes us on a journey with Sapna, as she negotiates this new and oftentimes frightening development in her life. She has a wise head on her young shoulders, yet despite her misgivings about this fantastical sounding plan, she embarks on each challenge with her own brand of honesty and courage and values.
There are two extraordinary things about this book.
One is that Mr. Swarup gets inside the head and the mind and the skin of a young woman and tells her story with an accurate voice.
And the second extraordinary thing is the author’s impeccable sense of timing.
In the aftermath of a brutal gang-rape in Delhi in December 2012 and the consequent soul-searching that the country has gone through, as a nation questions its own moral views, its attitude to women and its apparent unwillingness to help out strangers, Mr. Swarup’s book is beyond timely. We meet members of a Haryana family, coolly marrying off their daughter against her wishes to a much older man. We meet would-be rapists. We meet corrupt policemen.
We encounter apathy and corruption and pure evil, all of which this young woman must fight, and without being overly dramatic, one can almost see Sapna as a symbol for an emerging, socially-aware India. The India that protested against the gang-rape, despite the water cannons and beatings of its own government.
Judge for yourself :
I won’t spoil your enjoyment of the book by telling you how Sapna’s quest ends.
But suffice it to say that this book is a page-turner, is so up-to-the-mark about contemporary India, especially Delhi, that is is beyond a piece of fiction.
Published in Jnauary 2013 by Simon and Schuster, the paperback costs Rs 350 in India.
If you wish to order the book right now, just click on the link below. Couldn’t be easier.
If you would like to read about the Delhi launch of “The Accidental Apprentice” then just click on the following link. There is even a clip of the author answering some of the rapid fire 20 questions put to him by his interviewer.